A mattress is not just a piece of furniture. It’s an investment. You want to be sure you’re getting the best possible value for your money, which means finding a comfortable, durable mattress that suits your unique needs. With so many options on the market, it can be tough to know where to start. Together, we will look at four of the most popular types of traditional mattresses — innerspring, memory foam, latex and hybrid — to help you decide which one is right for you.
What Are the Traditional Mattress Types?
To better understand what a bed in a box is and whether you’re better off with a traditional mattress, we need to cover the basics. Here are the four most popular types of traditional mattresses:
An innerspring mattress is the most popular type of mattress on the market today. Innerspring mattresses have a coil support system that provides excellent back support and durability. They are also usually quite affordable for back and stomach sleepers, offering a firm yet comfortable sleeping surface. However, for some, that extra firmness may be too much.
Generally, innerspring mattresses are not ideal for people with chronic pain or joint issues. And many people who sleep on their sides will only find innersprings comfortable if they have a pillow-top or another type of mattress topper or mattress pad.
Memory Foam Mattress
A memory foam mattress is constructed from multiple layers of foam that conform to your body shape. Yes, this is the same material that NASA invented to reduce the G-forces on astronauts during launch and landing! Memory foam mattresses are top-rated because they provide a unique combination of comfort and support. They’re also great for people with back or joint pain, as they evenly distribute body weight and help to reduce pressure points. However, memory foam mattresses tend to hold heat, so they may not be ideal for people prone to night sweats unless they incorporate cooling technology into the mattress.
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A latex mattress is similar to a memory foam mattress because it contours to your body shape. The main difference is that latex mattresses are made from natural latex (derived from rubber trees). In contrast, memory foam mattresses are made from synthetic materials. As a result, latex mattresses tend to be more expensive than memory foam mattresses, but they are also more breathable and cooler to sleep on.
A hybrid mattress combines an innerspring mattress and a memory foam or latex mattress. Sometimes they even have both latex and foam incorporated into their design. Hybrid mattresses have a coil support system like an innerspring mattress. Still, they also have one or more layers of comfort foam, latex or both. Hybrid mattresses usually provide good back support and pressure relief while being cooler and more comfortable than an innerspring mattress.
However, they can also be quite expensive due to the advanced technology they incorporate. Many hybrid mattresses are also tall, meaning you may want to opt for a low-profile box spring or slatted foundation to keep your mattress at a comfortable height.
What Is a Bed in a Box?
A bed in a box is exactly what it sounds like — a mattress that comes delivered to your door in a (seemingly) impossibly small box. But how do they work? And, more importantly, are they worth the investment versus a regular mattress? Let's take a closer look at beds in a box to find out.
What They're Made Of
Most beds in a box are made of either foam or latex — or sometimes both. That means they are in the same family as memory foam or latex mattresses with all the same benefits and considerations. The big difference, of course, is that beds in a box are compressed into a small package that can be easily shipped right to your door.
It is worth noting that since bed-in-a-box manufacturing has skyrocketed, some of the cheapest options will use lower-quality materials. That means you may not get the same lifespan or comfort as you would from a higher-end mattress. However, there are many high-quality bed-in-a-box options available now. You’ll have nothing to worry about if you buy from a respected brand and retailer.
How They’re Packaged and Shipped
Special machinery, first invented by Bill Bradley in 2007, compresses the mattress into a manageable size so it can be quickly shipped to your door in — yes, you guessed it — a box. And because they’re compressed, they’re also easy to get into your room. So there’s no need for heavy lifting or maneuvering around tight corners. Instead, simply unbox and unroll your new mattress, which will pop into shape within an allotted period.Shop Our Bedroom Furniture
So How Do You Decide?
Deciding whether to go with a traditional mattress type or a bed in a box involves considering several factors, including price, convenience, comfort, support, quality and lifespan. You aren’t really deciding between two mattresses here but rather two different ways of buying a mattress. Ultimately, it comes down to what you value most and what will work better for your specific situation.
One of the most significant factors people consider when purchasing is price. Regarding mattresses, there is a wide range of prices for both bed-in-a-box and traditional options. It's important to compare apples to apples, though, and ensure you’re looking at mattresses of similar quality. With that in mind, you’ll typically find a lot of low-price and budget-friendly options in the bed-in-a-box category. That’s because their initial appeal was to offer a more affordable mattress than what was available in traditional models. But, as with everything in life, you may sacrifice quality for savings.
Another factor to consider is convenience. Traditional mattresses can be heavy and difficult to move, not to mention getting them into your home if you don’t have a truck or SUV. On the other hand, bed in a box mattresses are much easier to move and transport since they come compressed in a small box. They’re also easy to set up — unbox them and let them expand. It’s important to note here, though, that while they’re easy to move into a home, thanks to their box, they won’t be fitting back in there when it comes time to move out.
Comfort and Support
This takes us back to our initial discussion on different types of mattresses. The biggest difference here isn’t over a bed in a box or traditional options, but rather what material you want your mattress to be made of. If you’re a big fan of innerspring mattresses, you’re out of luck in the bed-in-a-box category since those are unavailable. But if you’re open to foam or latex, you have plenty of options. And, within those categories, you can choose from a wide range of firmness levels. So, if comfort and support are your main concerns, don’t worry — you have plenty of options regardless of which route you go.
Base or Foundations
The base or foundation you plan to use with your bed may impact if you go for a traditional mattress or a bed in a box. However, if you choose the route of a box spring or platform bed, you’ll be able to use either type of mattress. Remember that any convenience you gain from a bed in a box may be lost if you need to have a box spring ordered and delivered. That’s why they tend to be most popular with people who either have a platform bed or are planning to order one. Another point to consider here is using a new mattress with adjustable beds. You’ll want to make sure the mattress you choose is compatible. Again, this is something you’ll need to check with the retailer or manufacturer before making your purchase.
Quality and Lifespan
The quality of a mattress is essential to consider since you want it to last. When it comes to bed-in-a-box mattresses, there is a wide range of options available, from budget-friendly models to high-end, luxury options. The same can be said of traditional mattresses of all types, though the genuinely top-of-the-line options will only be available in traditional mattresses. These are the ones with hand-stitched details and crafted from materials like silk, cashmere and vanadium steel. So if the quality is a significant concern for you, it’s worth considering opting for a traditional mattress or a higher-end bed-in-a-box option.
If you’re concerned about the quality of the mattress you’re purchasing, look into the warranty and return policy before buying. Many bed-in-a-box companies offer a 100-night trial period so you can test out the mattress and see if it’s a good fit for you. Traditional mattress companies typically provide a much shorter return window — often around 30 days. So, if you’re someone who likes to take your time making a decision, a bed-in-a-box company may be a better option for you.
The lifespan of a mattress is also something to consider. Generally, you can expect a mattress to last around 7 to 10 years if it is well-made from quality materials. But this will vary depending on the type of mattress, how often you use it and how well you take care of it. With proper care, some beds can last much longer. For optimal lifespan from any mattress, we recommend doing the following:
- Rotate and Flip – Every three to six months, rotate your mattress 180 degrees. This will help evenly distribute wear and tear. For innerspring and latex mattresses, you should flip them over top to bottom every few months as well.
- Use a Mattress Protector – A mattress protector is a must if you want your mattress to last. It will protect it from spills, stains and body oils. In addition, some warranties require you to use a mattress protector, so be sure to include this must-have item on your bedding shopping list.
- Keep It Clean – Vacuum your mattress regularly using the soft brush attachment to remove dust and debris. If it needs a deeper cleaning, spot clean with a mild soap and water solution. Never use harsh chemicals on your mattress, especially not memory foam or latex. Just be sure it is completely dry before using it again.
A Bed in a Box Mattress Might Be for You If:
- You’re on a budget – Plenty of affordable bed-in-a-box mattresses are available that won’t break the bank.
- Latex or memory foam is on your list – If you’re thinking about latex or memory foam mattresses, there’s no reason not to look at bed-in-a-box options. Just be sure to research and read customer reviews to find the best one for you.
- You’re looking for convenience – These mattresses are designed for easy delivery and setup, so if you want something that will arrive at your door and be ready to sleep on in minutes, this is the option for you.
A Traditional Mattress Might Be for You If:
- You prefer innerspring mattresses – If you’re set on an innerspring mattress, you’ll need to go the traditional route since they are not available in bed-in-a-box form.
- You want a luxury mattress – The truly high-end mattresses are only available from traditional retailers. If you have been saving for a long time, have the budget and want to invest in sleep luxury, then a traditional mattress is the way to go.
- You have specific requirements – If you need something very specific, like a custom size or shape, you’ll need to go the traditional route since bed-in-a-box companies cannot accommodate special requests.
There is no clear winner. It all depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you’re looking for a budget-conscious, convenient option, a bed-in-a-box mattress might be the way to go. But if you’re looking for an innerspring mattress or something more luxurious, you’ll need to go the traditional route. The important thing is to do your research, read customer reviews and find the option that’s best for you.